[Helping authors promote their books. Being profiled does not necessarily mean I recommend the book.]
We're in for a treat because Derek the Ghost, aka Derek Taylor Kent, is here for a visit! His book The Northern Frights (Scary School #3) came out TODAY! My son if you recall reviewed book #1 here last year and highly recommended it. He since have read book #2 (loved it as well) and awaiting his pre-ordered copy of this book #3, oddly enough due to arrive next week :(. He loves the series so he's most excited that Derek the Ghost is here with us today.
Let's take a moment to get to know him a bit. Oh, don't forget to comment about how sharp he's looking for us this morning too! :)
When and why did you begin writing?
Ever since I was seven years old I remember being the "writer" of my class. I looked forward to all the creative writing time and always wrote the longest stories because I never wanted to stop. I was also the weird kid who, during 'free reading' time, would actually sit there and read the dictionary. That continued through school. I was always very shy, so writing was my outlet to connect with my classmates. I could always make them laugh with my silly stories.
I began seriously writing children's books and thinking it would probably be my career when I was 15 years old and took a creative writing class in high school. The teacher was a bit flabbergasted when I was the only one writing Dr. Seuss-style books for assignments. The Harry Potter series, which I started reading in college, was what really kicked me in the butt to start writing novels because I so loved the unique world she created and wanted to do that as well.
What is your favorite chapter or part and why?
My favorite chapter of Scary School #1 is the chapter about Petunia. She's a young girl who's completely purple from head to foot, like a petunia. Her hair also makes its own pollen, so she's constantly surrounded by bees and wasps that like to collect it. The way she feels about her herself is similar to how I felt about myself at her age. She feels like an outsider and is very lonely. The bugs that fly around her head are her best friends. Because of her loneliness, she loves to read more than anything else, so she becomes Derek the Ghost's biggest fan, because she loves to read his writing. I get more into this in Scary School Book 2 and she plays a big role in Scary School #3 as well.
How would you describe your current writing environment?
I do write every day, though I wouldn't say I write all day. Aside from the books, I'm also a screenwriter and a songwriter, so I'm usually focusing on one or the other each day. Writing is the thing I enjoy most in the world, so when I'm writing it's like my leisure time. It's hard to think of it as work. I also love to cook, so I'll usually spend some time making myself a really good lunch, and then I'll write in the afternoon if it's open, otherwise, I'll do my writing after dinner. I do still have a day job (though it's a flexible day job), so I have to schedule my writing time around my unpredictable work schedule. Hopefully soon I'll be able to fully dedicate myself to writing and my output will soar! I don't like any distractions when I'm writing, so I usually sit alone in my room with no music or anything else going on so I can be completely focused. Then I can usually get a lot done in a short amount of time.
What are you reading now?
I just finished Dan Brown's The Inferno... I keep starting to read Game of Thrones, but then I stop myself because I don't want to spoil the TV show... I can't decide!
Is there any particular writer that influenced you?
Yes, there are several: Kurt Vonnegut, JK Rowling, Louis Sachar, Art Spiegelman, and Stephen King.
What are some of your hobbies?
I love cooking and eating good food. I love playing basketball, playing guitar, and playing ping pong. I also love hiking with my dog, watching movies, and writing crazy stories. I guess writing crazy stories is more of a profession, but it's so fun it feels like a hobby.
Can you tell us about your next book?
Next year I have a bi-lingual Spanish/English picture book coming out called El Perro in Sombrero. I also have a couple other picture book projects in development and a top secret YA adventure book in the vein of Ready Player One and The Da Vinci Code that I am just starting on.
Which do you prefer, Facebook or Twitter?
I prefer Facebook, but I'm still trying to keep it old school by having a really fun website for kids. I run the website (www.ScarySchool.com) myself and it was designed by Jett MG (jettmg.com), so I'm very much involved in everything. I wanted the website to really give the visitor a feel for what it's like to be a student at Scary School and spend hours having fun. You can meet the students and faculty, tour the school grounds and classrooms, and watch some funny videos. Plus there are so many hidden Easter eggs and secret links I can barely keep count! My favorite part is probably the video game you can play. If you win, you will receive the weirdest trophy ever and get the secret passcode to gain priority admission into Scary School!
Are you a morning person or night owl?
I used to always be a night owl, but ever since I got my new puppy who wants to go for a walk at 6 am every morning, I am reluctantly turning into a morning person.
What is one of your guilty pleasures?
Chocolate bar doughnuts and Million Dollar Listing
Thank you for spending some time with us Mr. Kent! You're a down-to-earth and fascinating man. I like to hear that you enjoy writing that it feels like a hobby. I also like that you're stretching yourself by working on a bilingual picture book and a top secret YA adventure. Much success on those and I'll be sure to keep my eye out for them.
Until the next time, happy writing! We love your work!
In The Northern Frights, the third book in the spooky Scary School series, Charles “New Kid” Nukid and his friends, including Lattie, a girl ninja, must fight an epic battle with an ice dragon to save their school. But first they must survive going to Scream Academy as exchange students. And that may be hard, because the Academy has an abominable snowman for a principal, a Headless Horseman as one of the teachers, and the students are yetis, trolls, and ogres!
Will Charles survive to make an ancient prophecy come to pass and save everyone? The illustrated Scary School trilogy by Derek the Ghost, with its mix of humor, scares, and adventure, is a perfect pick for middle-grade readers of the Wayside School series and the Zach Files books.
Why did you feel you had to tell this story?
I had to change schools when I was 11 years old after being with the same group of kids my whole life. I had a really hard time adjusting, so both books of Scary School and Rudy and the Beast deal with kids starting a new school and figuring out how make new friends. I enjoy writing about problems like this. Experiences that every kid has to go through at some point in their life, but told against the backdrop of a fantastical or supernatural story that kids love.